WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred when it applied the reasoning of its earlier decision in International Union, United Auto, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of Am. v. Yard-Man, Inc. (716 F.2d 1476) to a dispute over the life of retiree health benefits, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled Jan. 26, siding with the employer, which argued in favor of applying the ordinary principles of contract law (M&G Polymers USA, LLC, et al. v. Hobert Freel Tackett, et al., No. 13-1010, U.S. Sup.; 2015 U.S. LEXIS 759).
MILWAUKEE - An insured is not entitled to attorney fees from proceeds in a settlement of an underlying lawsuit regarding a construction project, a Wisconsin federal judge ruled Jan. 22 (Edward E. Gillen Co. v. The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, No. 10-564, E.D. Wis.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7870).
NEW YORK - A federal judge erred by finding that a health care provider settled its claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for services rendered with a self-funded employee benefit plan based on the plan's "one-sided representation," the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 21 in an unpublished order (Montefiore Medical Center v. Teamsters Local 272, et al., No. 13-4221-cv, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 844).
NEW YORK - A New York appeals panel on Jan. 22 found that there is a fact issue regarding whether an employee's diversion of checks that were required to be deposited with his employer to a condominium developer manifests an intent to harm the employer within the meaning of a fidelity bond (Keybank National Association, et al. v National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA, et al., No. 13799, 104125/10, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.; 2015 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 615).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Because a disability insurer cannot prove than a disability plan was part of an employee welfare benefit package, the insurer's argument that the state law claims are preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act fails, an Alabama federal judge said Jan. 21 in denying the insurer's motion for summary judgment (Lawrence Rosen M.D. v. Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co., No. 14-0922, N.D. Ala.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6586).
COLUMBUS, Ohio. - Ohio residents who are suing E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. for personal injury and wrongful death in connection with a spill of perfluorooctanoic acid (also called C-8) on Jan. 22 moved in Ohio federal court for an order to compel the company to "immediately produce" documents that the district court has already ordered DuPont to provide in discovery (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
CHICAGO - An Illinois judge on Jan. 20 ordered an insurance company into rehabilitation and appointed the state's acting director of insurance as rehabilitator (People of the State of Illinois, ex rel. James A. Stephens, Acting Director of Insurance of the State of Illinois v. Millers Classified Insurance Company, an Illinois domestic stock insurance company, No. 2015CH00885, Ill. Cir., Cook Co., Chanc. Div.).
BOSTON - The presence of a few uninjured members in a class does not prevent certification, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 21, affirming the certification of the class of indirect purchasers of Nexium in a pay-for-delay lawsuit over the heartburn drug (In re Nexium Antitrust Litigation, Astrazeneca AB, et al. v. United Food and Commercial Workers Unions and Employers Midwest Health Benefits Fund, et al., Nos. 14-1521 & 14-1522, 1st Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 968).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 22 affirmed a lower court's ruling that a workers' compensation exclusion bars coverage for a $9.5 million wrongful death judgment against an insured after the Florida Supreme Court answered three certified questions in the affirmative (Leticia Morales, et al. v. Zenith Insurance Co., No. 12-11755, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 930).
NEW YORK - A New York federal magistrate judge on Jan. 20 granted a disability claimant's motion to compel discovery on the limited issue of determining whether procedural irregularities or conflicts affected the insurer's denial of a long term disability claim (Liyan He v. Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York, No. 14-2180, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6652).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Evidence that a man suffered occupational asbestos exposure and a workers' compensation court's ruling that it led to his lung cancer are sufficient grounds on which to award benefits to his widow, West Virginia's top court held Jan. 20 (Sadie Page, widow of John W. Page Jr. v. West Virginia Office of Insurance Commissioner and Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 14-0108, W.Va. Sup. App.; 2015 W. Va. LEXIS 42).
SAN FRANCISCO - Granting in part a gang member's motion to exclude the testimony of a police gang expert, a California federal judge on Jan. 20 found the expert qualified to testify about certain elements of gang organizations under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc. (509 U.S. 579 ), but not about particulars of gang members' alleged crimes (United States of America v. David Andrew Martinez, et al., No. 3:13-cv-00794, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6303).
NEW YORK - A New York federal magistrate judge on Jan. 20 granted a disability claimant's motion to compel discovery on the limited issue of determining whether procedural irregularities or conflicts affected the insurer's denial of a long-term disability claim (Liyan He v. Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York, No. 14-2180, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6652).
DETROIT - After finding that a tenant lacked standing to sue a lender in relation to the foreclosure of the property she lived in, a Michigan federal judge on Jan. 22 granted judgment for the lenders and dismissed the case (Gwendolyn Hurst v. Federal National Mortgage Association, et al., No. 14-CV-10942, E.D. Mich.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6980).
ALBANY, N.Y. - A New York appeals court on Jan. 22 affirmed a trial court's ruling, finding that questions of fact exist as to an alternative dispute resolution representative's ruling that a subcontractor was liable for the development of mold at a construction site (David Staviski, doing business as Chemung Valley Acoustical and Partition, v. Christa Construction Inc., et al., No. 518879, N.Y. Sup, App. Div.; 3rd Dept.; 2015 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 597).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania Senate committee on Jan. 21 voted to recommend two bills that would amend the state's oil and gas lease act to allow royalty interest holders, such as landowners, to inspect the records of oil and gas exploration companies engaging in hydraulic fracturing to verify proper payment. The bills would also protect the royalty interest holders from retaliation from fracking companies.
HOUSTON - A federal judge in Texas on Jan. 21 ruled that a hydraulic fracturing joint venture failed to present evidence that an oil company with which it had a contract was liable for negligence and damages connected to alleged contamination of horizontal hydraulic fracturing wells (Texokan Operating Inc., et al. v. Hess Corporation, No. 13-02866, S.D. Texas).